August 24th, 2012
12:49 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney goes THERE: 'Birther' joke raises conspiracy theory

Commerce, Michigan (CNN) - Mitt Romney denied in an interview Friday that his reference to a highly charged political symbol - a birth certificate – was anything more than simply of homecoming humor.

"No, no, not a swipe," Romney said in the CBS interview referring to President Obama and the conspiracy theories over whether he was born in the United States. "I've said throughout the campaign that and before, there's no question about where he was born."

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"He was born in the U.S. This was fun about us and coming home, and humor - you know, we've got to have a little humor in the campaign as well," Romney continued.

Of course, humor needs a punch-line or it's not a joke.

It was a Friday campaign rally in Michigan, the state where Romney was born, where he chose to say, "Ann was born at Henry Ford hospital, I was born at Harper hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."

A fringe of conservative Republicans continue to believe that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Those in that movement are referred to as "birthers."

A certification of live birth released by Obama during the 2008 campaign, and then the long-form certificate released by the White House in the spring of 2011, both stated the president was born in a Hawaii hospital on August 4, 1961. Contemporaneously published newspaper announcements also noted the birth in the Aloha State. Only "natural born" citizens of the United States are eligible to be president.

Romney said in the interview that the comment was some much-needed humor in this fiery campaign.

"Well we're in Michigan and Ann and I were both born in Detroit, and of course a little humor always goes a long way," Romney said. "So it was great to be home, to be in a place where Ann and I had grown up and the crowd loved it and got a good laugh."

But Obama's campaign was not laughing.

"Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them," spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement after the campaign stop, but before the interview.

"It's one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff Arpaio, and Kris Kobach. But Governor Romney's decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America."

LaBolt's statement referenced some of the highest-profile figures who continue to perpetuate the "birther" line, including Donald Trump, who earlier this year endorsed Romney and has said he will have a high-profile role at the Republican National Convention next week. Trump increased the drumbeat for the White House to release Obama's long-form in the spring of 2011, just prior to its release. Despite the document being in the public sphere, Trump has continued to question Obama's birthplace in media appearances and in social media posts.

Romney senior adviser Kevin Madden said after the candidate's remarks, "The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born here in the United States. He was only referencing that Michigan, where he is campaigning today, is the state where he himself was born and raised."

Another aide noted that Romney "wasn't using prepared remarks."

In his Friday remarks, Romney's reference was to his own birth certificate, not that of Obama. Nevertheless, the crowd roared when Romney made the quip, and many supporters afterwards said they remained skeptical about where Obama was born.

"I thought it was great because why should we have to worry about whether the president has a birth certificate or not," Guy Myers of Clarkston, Michigan, said.

Another supporter, Lauri Pierce of Midland, said it drew a contrast for her between Romney and Obama.

"Well Mitt's from Michigan. There's no question about where he's from," Pierce said. "And you hear a lot of questions about Obama. You don't know, but you hear questions."

CNN's Rachel Streitfeld, Jim Acosta and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Michigan • Mitt Romney
soundoff (1,152 Responses)
  1. Hamilton

    No, Mitt, they haven't, but they sure have asked to see your taxes. Would you hire a CEO for Bain without a proper financial disclosure? Yeah, I didn't think so.

    August 24, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  2. Canuck Observer

    Nobody has asked to see his birth certificate,..but millions want to see your tax records.

    August 24, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  3. Thinks2010

    Just how stupid does Romney advisor Kevin Madden think we are. Of course, Romney was referring to the birther nonsense. Madden's denial is about as genuine as Todd Akin's claim that he simply misspoke. Why is it that Republican's never want to take responsibility for the stupid things they say.

    August 24, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    When the debates begin, Mitt Robmoney will get his golden panties beaten off of him so badly, he'd wish he wasn't born. Then the joke will be on you racist idiot.

    August 24, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  5. The Real Tom Paine

    Yesterday, several of our resident rightie trolls were screaming about Biden's foot-in-mouth tendency, what an idiot he is, etc....well, the man at the top of the GOP ticket has miles and miles of tape with him embarrassing himself and our country, everything from the cheesy grits comment to joking about ebing unemployed with people who are, well, unemployed. For a person who has amassed the wealth he has, Mitt Romney keeps demonstrating how truly undisciplined and or clueless he really is.

    August 24, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  6. mcrusa

    I have no desire to see Romney's birth certificate but I would like to see his tax records!

    August 24, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  7. Steve - Dallas

    I want to see his birth certificate. I think he was actually born in Mexico.

    August 24, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  8. Stewie

    By the way didn't our esteemed congressmen and senators just past a bill that would relive federal employees from duty if they failed to file their taxes in a timely and proper manner. This same bill should have included all federal employees but our fabulous leaders decided to aim this bill at the peon federal employee not the ones taking bribes and insider trading tips from private industry. If it is good for the federal peon then it should be good enough for congressmen, senators, presidents and want to be presidents.

    August 24, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. jas106

    Wow! Obama jokes about the dog riding on top of Romney's car and no one makes a fuss. Romney makes a joke and you'd think the world was coming to an end. Get real people. Let's discuss the issues and not the smart (and not so smart) comments both of them have made and will most likely continue to make. We all have choices to make very soon and hopefully we will base that choice on who best can lead us out of the current mess we have going on and not on the stuff that doesn't/shouldn't matter.

    August 24, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  10. Loqe

    Where are your taxes FlipFlopney??? How abt you show us those/ That's what the ppl want from you!!

    August 24, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. Peter

    Romney makes a joke:
    "No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised."

    ... and three more to follow

    "No one has ever asked to see my tax returns. They know that there is nothing... for you people to see."
    "No one has ever asked me if it was illegal. They know I can afford a good lawyer."
    "No one has ever asked to shake my hand. They know they have their reputation to keep."

    August 24, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. Expat American

    The verbal diarrhea that comes out of Romney’s mouth on a daily, hourly basis smell worse than what comes out of the business end of his million dollar dancing horse.

    Romney will lose.

    And Tea Toilet racists think that a Romney victory will somehow change the course of the future of this country; and that 15-20 years from now, Conservative/Republican Whites will somehow not be a marginalized, forgotten, scorned low caste minority in the United States.

    August 24, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. n

    Tax returns are more important then birth certificate Romney. We all know how u became rich paying only 13 % tax. Shame on u

    August 24, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  14. demsrule

    Signs of a desperate old guy, who will do and say anything to get himself elected. Although he's Mormon, I think he has sold his soul to the devil (Trump, Rove, Kochs, Adelson) and have made him some promises that he is now afraid he won't be able to keep.

    August 24, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  15. Sirned

    I want Reporters to ask Mitt one simple question. Did you use the Amnesty law granted by the US to avoid being tried as a felon? A simple question. I want the answer....

    August 24, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  16. T'sah From Virginia

    Once again – another reason why Romney cannot be trusted. He is trying very hard to keep the far-Right base and at the same time, destroying he chances of ever becoming president. There is no reason to bring up the BIRTHER issue unless you want to talk about it – So I guess he wants to talk about it!!!

    Now on Romney's agenda is the BIRTHER club, Abortion, Welfare/Free Stuff, Etch-A-Sketching, Flip-Flopping and LYING!!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!

    August 24, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  17. Former Republican

    Mitt, in order to be the president there are a few requirements. First, you must behave presidential. Second, you must have a lot of class and dignity.
    You fail on all counts

    August 24, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  18. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Only thing I want to see from Mittens is his concession speech."


    August 24, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  19. WOW

    And this is a guy running to lead my country ?

    August 24, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. MrApplesauce

    Woohoo... time for the Dems to break out the "magic underpants" and other Mormon jokes.

    Thanks for opening the door Romney.

    August 24, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  21. rtompkins

    The classless GOP road show continues. After watching this idiots wife say in an interview that releasing more tax returns would only give people ammunition one has to wonder if Rick Perry is this morons campaign manager. Overall, Mitt continues to prove that not only is he unfit for even a janitors job,he is also a brainless twit that should be laughed out of any presidential bid. But that won't happen because of all of the money being poured in to defeat the 'black guy' at all costs,so the good ole boys can get back to the raping and pillaging of America

    August 24, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  22. HunterPSU

    The alterantive for the columbia hiding school records is that B.O. does not want people to know he flunked Leadership 101 and Economics 101.....Based on his performance to date dont think it will really be a shocker.

    August 24, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC


    Rudy NYC
    No one has to ask Obama for his tax returns, because he has already released them.
    Exactly. Tell that to the hateful who asked the original question that I had re-posted. Hate makes you stupid. (not you Mary) I wonder if that guy has figured it out for himself yet.

    August 24, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  24. GaryB

    You know, I've never seen Mitt's birth certificate. So by the average birther's logic, the fact that I've never seen his birth certficate make him an illegal alien. Of course, since Mitt's dad was definitely born in Mexico, if Mitt was born in the U.S., that would make him an anchor baby, right?

    August 24, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  25. JDinHouston

    Where are your taxes Mitt?

    August 24, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
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